Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tasty Tuesday: Amish White Bread/ Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon Loaf
Regular Loaf
I have made this recipe lots, both plain and in cinnamon rolls. Recently though I made this bread into cinnamon rolls loafs. It is so yummy. 

Amish White Bread ( originally from All Recipes.com)

COOK TIME: 30 Min READY IN: 2 Hrs 30 Min RECIPE YIELD: 2 - 9x5 inch loaves

• 2 cups warm water (45 degrees C) 
• 2/3 cup white sugar 
• 1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast 
• 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 
• 1/4 cup vegetable oil 
• 5-6 cups bread flour 

1. In a large bowl, dissolve the sugar in warm water, and then stir in yeast. Allow to proof until yeast resembles a creamy foam. 
2. Mix salt and oil into the yeast. Mix in flour one cup at a time. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Place in a well oiled bowl, and turn dough to coat. Cover with a damp warm cloth). Allow to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. 
***(Make sure the kitchen is fairly warm.. If need be turn the oven on to a low temperature, wait a few minutes and then open the door.If your kitchen is still a little chilly, put saran wrap onto of the bowl, then put on the damp warm cloth.)
3. Punch dough down. Knead for a few minutes, and divide in half. Shape into loaves, and place into two well oiled 9x5 inch loaf pans. Allow to rise for 30 minutes, or until dough has risen 1 inch above pans. 
4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 minutes. 

Yummy Variation#1: Rather than making it into loaves, roll out the dough, put butter, cinnamon and sugar on it. Roll it into a roll, cut into 1.5 inch chunks and put into a square pan. Let it then rise to 1 inch about the pans and cook as above. (The bread does get bigger in the oven as well) It makes big cinnamon rolls that are great to have first thing in the morning. 
Yummy variation #2: Roll out the dough, put butter, cinnamon and sugar on it. Roll it all up into a loaf and put this into the pan to rise. Depending on the amount of sugar used this makes a very sweet, decadent cinnamon roll. Eat it fresh out of the oven or save it till later. It is very good (and quite fattening) with butter melted onto it. If it is cold, put the butter on it and put it into the microwave for 30-45 seconds.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tasty Tuesday: Easy Pie Crust

This is a really easy recipe Pie crust recipe
1 lb of Lard ( Tenderflake) or Crisco--comes in a box
6 cups of flour
1 can of clear pop not diet( Sprite, Gingerale, 7up etc)

Yummy Apple Pies I made
Cut the lard up into the six cups of flour using two knives until it resembles a crumbly mixture. Then pour the can of pop into it and mix together. It makes a really good pie crust with enough crust for roughly 6 pies( depending on the size)

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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Managing Money: Having a Budget

Since money does not grow on trees, being able to manage the money that you do have is important.  When you are on maternity leave and receiving a reduced amount of money it is even more important.

While I am very grateful that I live in Canada where I have a year of maternity leave and am able to receive maternity benefits, the money I receive is not the full amount of my regular paycheck.  As a teacher, I make a decent amount of money and have that drop is not always easy to get used to.  On the other hand, when I got back to work, I will have child care costs so actually getting used to having a lower amount of money to work with is a good thing.

Budgeting has become our friend.  It is amazing how a good budget actually gives us more money to spend as  certain amounts are set aside for each thing.  The Chief went online and was able to find a Personal Monthly Budget Spreadsheet from 123Spreadsheets.  These spreadsheets are free to get.

 This budget sheet contains lots of different areas for you to organize where you money is going.  We are able to budget out for different things, but then being able to adjust what we actual spent in the month.  Budgeting your money is only one part of it, but being able to see if you are staying within your budget is very important as well.

Some things that we have budgeted for include gas, groceries, insurance, hair cuts, home and car repair/ service.  We do not need to do home or car repair/ service every month.  We have it budgeted for, but if it is not used it just remains in our account for next month.  Essentially it is providing a cushion for other months where we may need to service the car.

We also set up different accounts at the bank.  We each have personal checking accounts that we put our spending money into.  We also have personal savings accounts.  We have a main account where all of money is deposited and where bills are paid.  We set up a joint savings account for travel.

What is great about giving ourselves allowances is that we know with that money it is ours to do with as we please.  We do not need to check with the other person if it is okay or if there is enough money to do so.  It is our own personal money.  Although it is somewhat difficult, we made an agreement that it doesn't matter if it is a great deal or not, we are not allowed to go over that money.  Even Benjy has an account for spending money for him.

Although we started doing this method of budgeting only a little while ago, the level of stress that we feel about our finances has diminished as we are easily able to see where our money is going and if we are sticking to our budgeted numbers.

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Friday, September 16, 2011

What has been on my TV lately?

Jes's guest post about TV last week is similar to the what I am doing right now.  While I am not restricting TV from anyone in the house, I definitely don't watch it as much as I used to.  We used to have satellite, but we are trying to cut costs so I did a 2 month trial run of going without traditional TV and only using Netflix.  At the end of the 2 months I cancelled my satellite.

 Although I will miss some of the newer shows that come out, I find Netflix suites my current lifestyle better.  I used to keep the TV on all day, but not really watch it.  Now I watch TV mostly in the evenings.  I don't watch it every  night.  Because I can watch it when I want and not when the network decides to play it, I don't feel drawn to tune in all the time.

Another thing that I enjoy is the ability to pause and rewind.  Often times Benjy is nursing or sleeping when I watch, but at times he is fussy.  I don't own a DVR so pausing live TV was never an option for me.  With Netflix, I am easily able to pass the program to deal with Benjy and calm him down and turn it back on later.
I am not saying that I will never get satellite again as I do enjoy lots of shows on TLC and the major networks, for the time being Netflix is much more convenient and cost effective for how much I watch.
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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tasty Tuesday: Lemon Pillow Cake

Lemon Pillow Cake

Prepare a box of white cake mix. Pour into a greased 9X13 pan. Take Lemon pudding ( either from a can or some that you have prepared) and put blobs on top of the cake. As the cake bakes, the cake will bake over the pudding. Bake the cake as directed on box.

Once the cake cools top it with this:
1 container of lemon or vanilla frosting (add lemon juice to vanilla) mixed with 1/2 to 2/3 a container of cool whip
Mix frosting and cool whip to together.

This makes a really yummy summer dessert.

It must be refrigerated if there happen to be any leftovers.

Meg's Note:
A cool variation although I haven't tried it would be to use a chocolate pudding with white cake and vanilla icing or for even a more death by chocolate combination, chocolate pudding with chocolate cake with chocolate icing.


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Monday, September 12, 2011

Things I Found Useful: Nursing Pillows

I have mentioned some things I have that I found were worth having around with the baby.  Two things that I really enjoy are my nursing pillows.  They are both made by Jolly Jumper.

1. The Boomerrang Nursing Pillow.

I use this pillow all the time.  It is my go to pillow for nursing.  It is soft and comfortable ( my son is next to me asleep on it).  It positions him just right for latching on and keeps him on my lap when he falls asleep.  The cover is able to come on and off every easily ( which is a good thing since my son is a puker).

I also used this pillow while I was pregnant as it was comfortable to lay on..

Boomerang Nursing Pillow - Slip Cover

2. The other nursing pillow that I like is the Baby-Sitter Pillow.  I only used this one a few times for nursing as I found it stiff and not that comfortable to use.  However, I love it for right now as my son is learning to sit up. It provides great support to him.  He is still able to move around, but I don't have to worry about him falling all the way back.

Baby Sitter - Nursing / Play Pillow

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Sunday, September 11, 2011

My Memories Digital Scrapbooking Review and Giveaway

One of the many things I have wanted to do for Benjy is to create a scrapbook of pictures that we have taken of him.  I have a scrapbook and have bought some paper and stickers.  So far I have gotten exactly one page done. I get started on working on it and then he wakes up so scrapbooking the traditional way is just not working well for me.  My Memories contacted me about doing a review of their digital scrapbooking software.  I immediately replied back after checking out their website as this seemed like a good solution to get some scrapbooking done.

This program is available by download or hard copy disk.  As we get more and more digital, a download only copy appeals to me as I don't have to worry about where I put the CD.  As long as you are logged into your account, the ability to download the program is available which is handy if your computer crashes and you need to re-download it.

The set up of the program took a few minutes.  Once the program was set up, I had the option to start scrapbooking right away.  The program comes preloaded with quite a few papers, embellishments, templates, and books.  On their site they also have quite a large selection of free kits to download which change often.  For kits to purchase that vary from quick make pages to full out design kits, the prices range from 84 cents to $7-8.  I find this to be very reasonable as from looking at kits in scrapbooking stores, the prices seem to be quite similar and that is for a one-time use product only.

Within 5 minutes of downloading the program and the extra kits, I had already created a scrapbook page.  I choose not to use a template, but use different design elements to create it.  The background of this page is Funky Polka.

I choose to use shapes on my picture to get the nice oval.  The words I put in using both the text feature and the word art tab.  I used embellishments to get the flowers and the stitching that goes across the top of the page. It did not take me long to make this page and I think it looks pretty cool.

The program is very straightforward to use.  As shown in the picture above, adding different elements to your page is very easy to do.

One of the things I really like about this program and digital scrapbooking is that there is an undo button.  This  makes life so much easier.  If you do something and it doesn't look right, just hit undo.

This is what the full program looks like when it is open.
Since this program also has lots of templates for those that are not as crafty or do not have the time to design their own pages, I thought I would also share a few examples of those.

Why yes, that is Bacon in a Santa hat.  
This examples shows journaling.  It is a picture template that I used to create this one. I had to add the background page and all the text.

This one here is a quick page.  All the design elements are provided.  You just need to add your pictures underneath and use this as a frame.

This program is designed for both a Mac or Windows.  I am currently running Windows XP, and it is working well..  My computer is 5 years old and runs it quite easily.  It only stalled once,  and I think that is because I had too many things running at once.  

Once you are done your creation, you can easily have them printed out.  There is an option for you to print them yourself or upload it to them and have it printed that way.  They have many templates that are in book form so it is very easy to make your own digital scrapbook and have a paper copy of it as well.

Overall, I really enjoyed using this software.  For me personally, I prefer not to use templates and just use all the design features on my own to create pages.  The great thing about this software is that it offers you choice.  You are not limited to only using templates or doing it all on your own.  I made the new banner for my blog using this software.

My Memories also has a Youtube channel to demonstrate different aspects of their program http://www.youtube.com/user/MyMemoriesSuite

My Memories Suite Scrapbooking Software retails for $39.95 USD.

Would you like your own copy so you can start making digital scrapbooks?

Go to My Memories  and use this promo code STMMMS49904  . This will get you $10 off the software as well as a $10 coupon to use in the Mymemories.com Store.


 You can win a copy below by entering the giveaway using Rafflecopter.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Our First Date Night

With a new baby in the house things have changed. No longer are we able to get up and go anywhere at any time.  Things need to be planned more and since we bring the baby everywhere we go, things need to be packed mainly changes of clothing and diapers.  So we planned our first date night without the baby.  The Cheif's mom was coming over to baby sit Benjy.  We would be gone only 5 hrs, but I pumped 9-10 oz to ensure he would not go hungry.

So we said goodbye to the baby and left to go out to dinner and do a bit of shopping.  The hour long car ride was nice as I was able a) drive and b) sit next to the Chief.  We had lots of good conversation on the way there. We went to Montana's and both of us ordered ribs. I love ribs, but eating ribs when you have a baby that often wants to be held is not easy so I took the opportunity to eat them. They were finger-licking, get sauce everywhere good.

After our meal, we went over to the mall where we bought Benjy his new carseat and books for him with a giftcard I had one from the local health unit.  Then we went to Walmart and bought things like shampoo.  Very Thrilling.

After that we proceed to drive home.  This time the Chief drove.  When we got home, Benjy was asleep on the couch and began smiling in his sleep when he heard our voices.

Unfortunately, he did not have as good of a time with his Memere.  He very much wanted me and refused to take a bottle.  He cried for 4 out of the 5 hours we were gone. His Memere held him the whole time and I can't imagine it was pleasant to hold a crying baby for that long. He was happy in his bath, but started to cry again.  Unfortunately it was rainy out so she couldn't even take him for a walk to get a change of scenery.

I think he is used to his night time routine of nursing and did not find a bottle to be an acceptable alternative.  He does takes bottles occasionally, but I think I am going to have to give him some bottles more often to get him used to it.  So the Chief and I decided that will be the last date night for a while.  We have gone out during the day and he was fine so we will have to stick to date days.

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Friday, September 9, 2011

Guest Post: TV and Children's Imagination

Jes, a mother of 3, over at Here We Go Again wrote this post about what changes were caused by removing TV in her home.

Almost 4 months ago my husband and I decided to remove all of our television sets from our home. We still have them in our possession, just not accessible on a daily basis. I thought it would have been hard to go without a television to entertain my two younger children as I home schooled my oldest. I have since found that, yes it has been much more difficult to home school, but that is far outweighed by the growth of their beautiful imaginations.

I had a habit, of allowing my children to watch TV when they wanted. It was always educational, so I figured that it wouldn't have been doing them any harm. I was a wee bit off the mark. While my children were excelling intellectually, they were suffering tremendously imaginatively.
They did not play house, did not make up voices, nor did they play with their dolls or teddy bears. They were just existing.
I had allowed their imaginations to become null and void, in exchange for an easier life for myself.
Once my husband and I came to this startling revelation, we decided to take action. So we took the TV's out. It was also hampering our relationship, as we no longer had conversations extending past the time of the next show's start.
My house is now a whirlwind of activity. Some days Spiderman even comes to stay with us, while other days I have wild Indians running through my living room. I've even had the Transformers visit. My son also has the ability to be an excavating machine. With his bare hands.
I've heard Mickey Mouse having conversations with the teddy bears, Peter Pan's shadow has visited their bedroom. Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater call on them often as well.
Each of the Disney Princesses have called and asked for me personally on their cell phones! How many parents can claim that?
They have been stranded on an Island, and lived in the caves (their bunk beds with blankets enclosing them). They have been daddies and a mommy to many dolls and bears, and they have even befriended bumblebees when camping. My oldest named them Aura and Maynor.
So when people tell me they think I'm crazy for taking my televisions out of the house I smile and say that I am.

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Introducing Solid Foods

Up until this point, Benjy has been only drinking breastmilk.  He has not had any solid foods and other than a bit of formula at the hospital, he has been exclusively breastfed.  Benjy is 5 months old and is showing many of the signs for starting to eat real food.  I am following the World Health Organization's suggestion to hold off solid foods until 6 months.

I don't think I have mentioned this in much detail, but Benjy seems to have a sensitivity to dairy.  If I have any in my diet he spits up a lot and has very mucousy poops.  Since I have cut it out and done my best to avoid it, the amount of spit-ups and mucousy poops has gone way down.  This is another reason why I am apt to wait a bit longer to start him on solids to avoid him having any long term allergies.

Most of my experiences with babies' starting food has usually been with pablum or jars.  Although jarred food is good for when you are in a pinch, I plan on making my own food for him to eat so I know exactly what is in it. Another concept that has me interested is the concept of Baby Led Weaning.  This method of weaning a baby is essentially allowing them to eat small finger foods right from the start of the process.  As I still have a few more weeks until Benjy is 6 months, I am going to continue to research it and see if this method is right for me.

Do you have any suggestions on a good way to introduce solid food?


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Under Construction

I started playing around with the settings and everything is funky right now so bare with me while I try to fix it.

Wordless Wednesday 9-7-11

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tasty Tuesday: Kettle Corn

My goal is to bring you a tasty recipe every Tuesday.  Any recipe that I share is something that I have made and know works out well.

This week's recipe is the perfect addition to any Autumn Party.

Kettle Corn ( author unknown)

1/2 cup of popcorn
1/4 cup vegetable oil or butter flavoured oil ( I used canola)
1 1/2 -3 tbsp brown sugar ( lightly sweet to very sweet
Salt to taste

Heat oil in a large heavy saucepan that has a lid ( Dutch oven/ spagetti pot)
Pour in the popcorn, sprinkle sugar on top, and cover
Once the popcorn starts popping, shake continuously until all the popcorn is popped.  ( Using oven mitts to hold the lid on as you shake is a good idea)
Transfer to serving bowl and salt lightly.  Makes 8-10 cups

Side note: Making only 1-2 batches at a time.  Any more than that the sugar begins to caramelize in the pot and burn.


Monday, September 5, 2011

Autumn is in the air

It is starting to get crisp outside.  Maybe in your neck of the woods it is still very warm, but where I live the temperatures begin to drop very early.  It was only 4C this morning.

So since fall is quickly approaching and who am I kidding winter as well, I have made the colours of autumn show on the blog.  If you noticed my new title banner which I made myself is a little different than normal, that is because it is.  It was made with a program that I am currently reviewing and will be hosting a giveaway for sometime next week.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Tomato-less Chili

 I am unfortunately allergic to tomatoes.  I developed this allergy when I was 18.  I get lovely rashes and headaches when I eat most things with tomatoes in it, but oddly enough, BBQ sauce in small amounts does not bother me.

But  no pasta sauce, salsa, or pretty much most things with tomato paste in them.  Most things I have lived without, but I have really missed chili.  So I did some experimenting the other night and actually came up with a pretty good substitute.

I pureed 1 red pepper with a medium onion with some water.  Then I also pureed about 2 cups of zucchini with some water.  I mixed them together in a pot with some ground chicken I had fried up.  I also added a pack of Old El Paso chili seasoning, a can of white kidney beans, and 1/2 jar of green tomatillo salsa.  The end result was quite yummy.

My red pepper chili

Comparing my red pepper chili to the regular chili I made for my tomato loving husband.  Doesn't look half bad..

Benjy is 5 months/ New Car Seat

I can't believe how quickly time has gone by.  My little boy is already 5 months old.  I was organizing things this morning and put away his old sleepers.  I held them up to him and there is no way he would fit in them now, but at one time they were loose on him.

He is 20lbs and 27 inches.  Quite a bit bigger than the 8lbs 1/2 oz and 19 3/4 inches he was at birth.

Because he is nearing the weight limit of his infant car seat which is a Graco Snugride, we decided to get him a new car seat.  We have a 2010 Nissan Versa Hatchback, so not just any car seat will fit well into our car.  The two choices that I found from other reviews that fit well were the Graco My Ride 65 and a Safety 1st seat.  I like our Graco products that we have so I went with that seat.

Here is a picture of Benjy sitting in his Graco My Ride 65 in Spiral.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Fitted Diapers Part 2

As I blogged about before, I tried to make fitted diapers.  The first ones did not turn out so well.  Since then I have played around with the design and produce some much better ones.

As I said, I used the pattern from here.  http://www.diapersewing.com/fitted_with_velcro.htm  I shortened the middle by about 3/4 of an inch.  I also made my elastic a bit tighter.  This one here has 4 layers of cotton flannel, with a 4 layer cotton soaker in the middle.  It is also most too thick as it takes forever to dry, but it fits him well.

This is another one I made.  The shape is a little off, but it is nice as well.  I used red flannel inside and sewed black minky on the outside.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Glow Bug Diaper Review

I recently had the opportunity to get a free sample diaper from Glow Bug Diapers.  They are a relatively new business based in Barrie, Ontario and have been giving out free samples to promote their business.  They sell their diapers for $150 for 12.  You can not buy them singly thus they are giving out samples to try before you buy. GlowBug diapers are a one size pocket diapers.

The sample print is black with the glow bug on it.  It comes with two microfibre  inserts that can snap into the diaper.It is a little hard to see, but it has 4 rise snaps which can make it easier to get a better fit.  Most one size pocket diapers only have 3 rise snaps so you have much more versatility with this diaper.

The Glow Bug diaper has an inner gusset.  This inner gusset is good when it comes to messy poops to avoid it going to the edge.  Virtually every time my son has worn this diaper, he has pooped.  The poop has always been contained and did not go beyond the inner gusset.  This is a nice design feature as you avoid any leakage on the leg.

The diaper all stuffed.  As you can see from this picture, that rather than just having a single snap, there are double snaps on the front of the diaper.

Inside the diaper, there is a place to snap in the insert.  The diaper comes with two inserts that can snap in.  Only one insert though can be snapped in at a time. The other would have to be placed on top of the other insert.   Typically I take the insert out before I put the diaper in the pail.  I decided to leave it on to wash it.  It comes off in the wash.  It sometimes flips the diaper inside out, but in the end it does come out clean.

Here is the back of the diaper.  As you can see, there are openings at either end of the diaper.  This makes it very easy to put the insert into the diaper.

 Here is a close up of the front of the diaper.  You can see the 4 rise snaps here, as well as the double row of the front snaps.

 Here is my son wearing the diaper.  In this picture he has the top rise snap done up so he is on the 3rd setting.  He has grown since this picture and now wears the diaper unsnapped.
 As you can see, the diaper fits nicely around his chubby thighs.

 He is quite content wearing his diaper.
I did not try this diaper overnight.  Pocket diapers do not work overnight with my son as we now use wool and a fitted diaper.  It worked very well for the daytime.

Overall, I do like the GlowBug Diaper.  It does have many nice features.  The elastic is very soft and does not leave red marks.  The snap in insert is very handy to use. I like the inner gusset.  It ensures that messes stay inside the diaper and do not try to migrate out.

Their customer service is great.  The first sample diaper I was sent ended up being a dud as the elastic on one leg detached.  I emailed them about it and they were quite concerned and upset. Together we troubleshooted what went wrong to ensure that it would not happen again.  They are very concerned about quality.  Even though I had paid nothing for this diaper, they sent me out another one for free.  The second diaper has been working great, and I have had no issues with it.

The prints that come in their packages which are Girl, Boy, and Spectrum are quite nice.  Their boy prints are pretty colourful.  I love their girl prints.  They are so feminine.  They Spectrum are quite colourful and the snaps on them are multicoloured which would be great to help a grandma or dad know which snaps to snap to.


Some cons to this diaper is that I do find when I put it on with the snapped insert in place that it causes a bit of a gap at the front and sometimes pulls the diaper down a bit.  It also seems as if the snap is placed too close to the top.   It also does take some getting used to using two snaps at the front.

As I said this diaper retails in a package for $150 for 12.  That works out to $12.50 a diaper which is very reasonable.  A con to me is that I am not one to have lots of one type of diaper as I like variety.  I also don't tend to have a large amount of money to spend at one time on diapers, so buying 1-2 at a time is more affordable for me.  They do suggest to go in with your friends to buy one, but I do not have too many real life friends that CD.

The prints that come with them are preset.  You get 1 of each in the package.  There is no mixing of packages.  It is either all boy, all girl, or Spectrum.  I like to have variety and not being able to choose isn't fun  to me.

Final thoughts.
Overall, I do think that this is a good quality diaper.  It is not too hard to put on.  It comes in a wide variety of prints. It is easily able to be adjusted and I am sure would fit from a small baby to a larger one quite easily.  My son is now 20 lbs and on the highest rise, but I still need to do it up near the middle.  At 12.50 a diaper, it does easily beat the price of more expensive brands.  If you are looking for a diaper to start your stash with, the Glow Bug diaper does offer you a very cost effective way of purchasing several diapers at once.

Want to own a GlowBug Diaper of your own , visit:  Glow Bug Diapers or check them out on facebook Glow Bug Cloth Diapers

I was not compensated for this review.  These are all my own opinions.